The Malta Independent 22 July 2019, Monday

Malta gets written warning over post-2009 car circulation tax

Monday, 10 June 2019, 08:41 Last update: about 2 months ago

The European Commission has initiated legal proceedings against Malta asking the government to amend its rules on car taxation to fall in line with the rest of the bloc.

This week, Malta received a ‘letter of formal notice’ from Brussels regarding the matter, the first of three steps before being brought before the European Court of Justice.

Under current Maltese legislation, cars registered in Malta after 1 January 2009 that have been imported from other EU member states are taxed more heavily than similar cars registered in Malta before that date, even when the imported car has already been registered in another Member State.

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The Commission considers that the Maltese legislation is not compatible with EU law. According to the case-law of the EU Court of Justice, EU law is infringed when road taxes are calculated according to different criteria which lead to higher taxes being imposed on cars imported from other Member States compared to non-imported vehicles.

The Maltese authorities now have two months in which to reply, failure to do so may result in the Commission sending a ‘reasoned opinion’, which could be followed by a Summons to the European Court of Justice.

When contacted, a government spokesperson said: “The Maltese government has taken note of the issue raised and is looking into the matter in order to allow it to submit its position on the matter in question.”

Article 110 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union states that: “No Member State shall impose, directly or indirectly, on the products of other Member States any internal taxation of any kind in excess of that imposed directly or indirectly on similar domestic products.

“Furthermore, no Member State shall impose on the products of other Member States any internal taxation of such a nature as to afford indirect protection to other products.”

The infringement of EU law procedure began this week with the sending of a ‘letter of formal notice’, the first written warning to a member state.  If unsatisfactory, the Commission may then decide to address a ‘Reasoned Opinion’ (final written warning) to the Member State.

This clearly and definitively sets out the reasons why it considers there to have been an infringement of EU law, and calls upon the Member State concerned to comply within a specified period, usually two months.

If the Member State still fails to comply with the Reasoned Opinion, the Commission may decide to bring the case before the Court of Justice. If the Court of Justice subsequently finds that the Treaty has been infringed, the offending Member State is required to take the measures necessary to conform.

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